Strong and challenging marmalade

So far the internet has let me down, I’ve consulted people who were there but the collective memory is weakened by the intervening years, oh and the the fact that we were probably still drunk when we came downstairs that morning.

There are several points that all the accounts agree on, the scale ran from 1-7, each pot was made by Chivers and that “Olde English” and “Dundee” styles were definitely in the line up. There is less consensus on”Cambridge” (Fresh and fruity?) but we are all fairly sure that “Breakfast” was in the range though not on the table. The lower numbers were definitely “no bits”, quite smooth, light coloured, a sort of orange jelly. Mid numbers were successively darker shades and chunk size increased…. and then, at the end of the line was No7. Labelled as “Georgian” and described in the tasting notes as “strong and challenging”. It was so dark, you could feel your arteries furring up at the thought of the sugar content. We nervously spooned it out. It was hard to spread and the pieces were enormous. Even a relatively thin layer owned the toast and the butter was apologising for just being in the way. The bitter taste wasn’t for everyone (alright I admit I was the only one who liked it enough to have a second slice), but we all agreed that it was an interesting exercise. Oddly, the next time we were gathered again there was a quiet, shuffling admittance that we had searched our respective local shops to try to find the others in the range and test them too. I guess, perhaps, to know the full scale of the experience.

I know many of you will be struggling to find the connection between marmalade and coaching but bear with me and it will (hopefully) become clear. So we have one entity, marmalade. We all know what marmalade is and that there are different versions or “flavours” and we probably have a favourite style or two. Maybe we have one that evokes childhood, one that is what we used to buy or like me, one that we’ve never found again and still dream about.

Now let’s look at you in the mirror, there’s the person who can’t believe they are this age, the one who is harassed and late for work, or maybe the one who is most happy spending time with the family. There’s often the version that we feel others want us to be, which may not be who we really are or aspire to be, and many of us are lost somewhere between them all.

So, the question is, do you have a scale, a range of YOU? A favourite version to be or maybe one where you’re coping, waiting to move to a different number on the scale? I mean, I know that my “No7 – Strong and challenging” is perfect for life and death decisions and useful for deadlines but not much fun for friends or colleagues to be around.

As a coach, when I ask people to write down the different “flavours” of themselves it provokes much thought and internal debate that is useful. Of course when I ask them to rank these flavours on a scale from the most to least desired version of themselves – well that’s when really powerful change takes place. That’s when they realise they can deploy the right version for the right circumstance (with no guilt), and that actually having different flavours is useful, just so long as you know your own scale.

Interested to know more? As ever I’m @projectlibero on twitter and you can find me at


About Jon Bartlett

I'm a coach, blogging on things that occur to me, that I want to share and any other fun stuff I find lying around in the real world.
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4 Responses to Strong and challenging marmalade

  1. Andy Phillips says:

    Rose’s Lime Marmalade makes me smile. They have a lemon one too. Any marmalade made with Seville oranges is always hard to beat and the Scot’s definitely know what to do with it. I don’t know where green marmalade puts me on the number (1-7) scale, but I have always liked to be different or at least ‘individual’. Guess that makes me an ‘F’.

    • Ah Roses Lime marmalade, as children we were only allowed it once a year on our camping holidays, even now it holds a special place in my heart and whilst I could buy it every week, I don’t, preserving that status.

      As for a scale Andy, it doesn’t have to be 1-7 it could be 1-20 or 1-100, the key is knowing that you are and can be “different” or “individual” and indeed lots of other attributes 🙂

  2. Rose’s Lime Marmalade was one of those childhood memories I had as I read through the post too! Yet it’s got nothing to do with the strength of orange marmalade does it? For me that is the value of such “devices” – it prompts you think in a way that connects with your memories and emotions whilst neatly bypassing that anxiously analytical neocortex. The thinking and answers that emotional state provokes are the right ones. Cracking post Jon!

    • Thanks for your feedback David, I was deliberately trying to draw the reader in and get beyond logic and rationality, looks like I succeeded. Mind you, think the title could use some work, not been much traffic to the site thus far so your RT is very much appreciated.

      With the blog being so new I’m still evolving my own distinctive voice but it’s very true to my coaching and the relaxed style (did someone say leftfield) that I like to employ.

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